No extradition request for Assange, says Ecuador

People hold up images of Julian Assange that read in Spanish: ‘Ecuadorian’ as they counter-protest demands to remove his Ecuadorean nationality, in Quito. (AP Photo)
Updated 07 November 2018
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No extradition request for Assange, says Ecuador

  • The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy since 2012
  • Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay

QUITO: Ecuador said Wednesday it has received no extradition request for Julian Assange, which his lawyers have long cited as the reason the WikiLeaks founder has refused to leave its London embassy.
“We have told Mr. Assange: ‘Up to now, as far as we know, there is no extradition request from any country,’” Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told state-owned Radio Public.
The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy since 2012, but Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay.
Valencia said the cost of hosting Assange so far had come to around six million dollars.
Assange fears being extradited to the United States to face charges over the WikiLeaks website’s release of troves of sensitive US government files.
He found refuge in the embassy in London after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to face allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
That case has since been dropped, but Britain still wants him to face justice over breaching his bail conditions following his arrest on the sexual assault allegations.
His lawyer Carlos Poveda said last month Assange was prepared to surrender to British police if he receives assurances he will not be extradited.
“What England asks of him is to appear before the British courts to answer for having broken the conditions of his provisional release,” the foreign minister said.
“We do not see the British changing their point of view, they continue to insist that he appear before the courts and that they will not give him safe passage to another country,” said Valencia.
Ecuador said it had been informed by Britain that the penalty for violating parole conditions would not be more than six months.
Assange is currently suing Ecuador on grounds that his rights were violated by its decision to restrict his Internet access. An Ecuadoran court threw out the lawsuit last week, but Assange is appealing.
Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s Internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.
A protocol governing Assange’s stay at the embassy — revealed by Ecuadoran Internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito — warns that further breaches will lead to “termination of asylum.”


French yellow vests protest in Paris amid tighter security

Updated 23 March 2019
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French yellow vests protest in Paris amid tighter security

  • The Champs-Elysees was almost empty Saturday except for a huge police presence
  • Paris police detained 51 people by early afternoon, issued 29 fines and conducted 4,688 “preventive checks” on protesters entering the capital

PARIS: Thousands of French yellow vest demonstrators were marching through Paris on Saturday as authorities enforced bans on protests in certain areas and displayed enhanced security measures to avoid a repeat of last week’s riots in the capital.
The crowd gathered peacefully Saturday at Denfert-Rochereau Square in southern Paris and then headed north. The protesters are expected to finish Saturday’s march in the tourist-heavy neighborhood of Montmartre around its signature monument, the hilltop Sacre-Coeur Cathedral.
French authorities have banned protests from the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris and the central neighborhoods of several other cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Rouen in western France.
The Champs-Elysees was almost empty Saturday except for a huge police presence. Scores of shops were looted and ransacked last weekend, and some were set on fire by protesters. Fear of more violence certainly kept tourists away, and police shut down the Champs-Elysees subway stations as a precaution.
Paris police detained 51 people by early afternoon, issued 29 fines and conducted 4,688 “preventive checks” on protesters entering the capital.
In Nice, police dispersed a few hundred protesters who gathered on a central plaza. The city was placed under high security measures as Chinese President Xi Jinping was expected to stay overnight on Sunday as part of his state visit to France.
The new Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, who took charge following the destruction wrought by last week’s protests, said specific police units have been created to react faster to any violence.
About 6,000 police officers were deployed in the capital on Saturday and two drones were helping to monitor the demonstrations. French authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites, allowing police forces to focus on maintaining order during the protests.
President Emmanuel Macron on Friday dismissed criticism from opposition leaders regarding the involvement of the military, saying they are not taking over police duties.
“Those trying to scare people, or to scare themselves, are wrong,” he said in Brussels.
Christelle Camus, a yellow vest protester from a southern suburb of Paris, called using French soldiers to help ensure security “a great nonsense.”
“Since when do soldiers face a population? We are here in France. You would say that we are here in (North) Korea or in China. I never saw something like this,” she said.
Last week’s surge in violence came as support for the 4-month-old anti-government yellow vest movement has been dwindling, mostly as a reaction to the riots by some protesters.
The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader rejection of Macron’s economic policies, which protesters say favor businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers. Macron countered by dropping the fuel tax hike and holding months of discussions with the public on France’s stagnant wages, high taxes and high unemployment.
The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.